Pectin–cerium (IV) tungstate composite (Pc/CT) has been prepared by sol gel method at room temperature. The composite ion exchanger has been characterized using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and Fourier infrared spectroscopy. The ion exchange capacity, pH titrations, thermal stability and distribution coefficient of composite ion exchanger were investigated. The Na+ ions exchange capacity of the Pc/CT has been observed higher (1.4 meq g−1) as compared to its inorganic counterpart (0.8 meq g−1). Pc/CT composite ion exchanger was thermally stable and retained about 60 % of its ion exchange capacity up to 400 °C. The distribution study has inferred more selective the Pc/CT for Zn2+ as compared to other metal ions. The adsorption efficiency of Pc/CT was tested for methylene blue removal dye from aqueous phase. The removal of dye followed pseudo-second-order kinetics.